Posts Tagged ‘memories’

I’ve been doing some cleaning out of boxes of junk in my office, and came across a few things that made me smile:

  • The farewell card from the company I chaired, when I resigned to go to the Middle East and Italy. Aside from the lovely messages from the staff, and the gift of a beautiful silk scarf (which is currently in my handbag to help out with any unexpectedly cold autumn days), they all provided their favourite travel tips for Europe. The tips included favourite places in France, eight Kiwi cafes with the best coffee in London, a cottage in Oxfordshire, a pub in Essex, and a patisserie at the bottom of the steps of the Sacre Coeur in Paris, a b&b in Ravello on the Amalfi Coast, recommendations for shopping in Dubai, information about border crossings into Israel, and recommendations about Petra and Wadi Rum in Jordan.
  • A letter from my mother (she’s been gone five years now) talking about her recent trip to visit me, and the birthday surprise we gave her (a visit from my younger sister as well, and a performance of World of Wearable Arts). It was two years after my father had died, and she had been suffering anxiety, so the holiday away was just what she needed. She sounded enthusiastic about learning to use the computer and was about to start lessons, she was going to an exercise group, and had joined a tai chi group too. It was only a few years later when the Alzheimer’s started affecting her, but it makes me happy and proud of the efforts she made to build her own life after 50 years with my father.
  • Genealogy information of my mother’s family, which I didn’t realise I had. Pays to look at every document in a box full of junk.
  • Postcards from all over Europe, sent by British friends we met in Bangkok in the early 90s.
  • A recipe for Sponge Drops, a very traditional light sponge in individual cakes (drops), sandwiched together with cream and raspberry jam. I might just have to make some sometime soon.
  • The itinerary for our first trip to South Africa more than ten years ago, for my husband’s milestone birthday. It was an amazing trip, so highly anticipated, and lived up to my expectations so wonderfully that we went back for my own milestone birthday a few years later, and I was hoping to go back again next year for another such birthday. I’d been hoping friends and family might join us then too, but whether we will be able to or not is anybody’s guess at the moment.
  • An article about the Ectopic Pregnancy Trust winning a UK National eWell-Being Award for its website and messageboards that built a community. I used the site and then volunteered on the site for a decade.
  • Cards and drawings from Charlie, when she used to have an amazing time visiting us.

I still have lots to sort through. I wonder what else I might find?

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Just “being” with friends

Our bus trip to Roi Et in August 1980 took eight hours but cost us only 76 baht (about US$3). There was, needless to say, no air-conditioning, and the seats were crammed in, suitable for Thai sized persons, but not for me; my diary notes simply that it was “very uncomfortable.” Perhaps these things are easier to deal with when you are 17.

We arrived at 5.30 am, and went straight to Sharon’s house, bathing off the bus sweat and then collapsing, all four of us, for a few hours. We – two American girls and two Kiwi girls – spent the rest of the day just hanging out in this small town in the northeast of Thailand. Later, after school finished, another American AFS student joined us, and we went out to eat ice-cream together, finding a real joy in simply being together, talking, laughing, being kids, without the ever-present pressure to be the polite, interested or engaged exchange student, to make an effort to speak Thai, to always be happy, to represent our countries.

A few afternoons later, after we had returned from our overnight trip to the neighbouring town of Kalasin to celebrate another AFSer’s birthday, Sharon put on her James Taylor tape and we collapsed again on her bed. Now, whenever I hear “You’ve got a friend” or “Fire and Rain,” I think of that trip, and remember Sharon B, Sharon M, Nicki (no longer with us), Peter and Rusty, and I smile.


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“What first attracted you to Dad?” we’d ask Mum, knowing the answer, but wanting to hear her say it again.

“Oh,” she’d sigh, remembering. “It was his lovely dark, curly hair.”

And we – wicked ungrateful disrespectful children – would shriek with laughter.

You see, by the time we had memories of our father he was greying and balding.  Poor Dad lost his crowning glory early, starting to go grey in his 20s, and then – apparently unusually in his family – starting to lose his hair in his 30s.

My hair was never black like Dad’s, but it was dark brown, thick and soft and wavy, quite curly too at a young age.  It wasn’t the only physical feature I inherited from my father, but it was probably the best.  Of course, human nature being what it is, I always envied my sisters having straight hair, as it was a constant battle to control my contrary Irish hair, that would curl where I didn’t want it to, and not curl where it should have.  My mother could never understand this, and often bemoaned the fact that I either a) cut off all my curls, or b) used a hair straightener to tame them.

But it was when I was the tender age of 27 that I realised I’d inherited more from my father than my soft, thick, and wavy hair. I was at work one day, when a colleague – a woman just a year older than I was, someone who never seemed happy unless she was one-upping someone else – stood behind me and loudly declared to anyone who would listen that (Mali) “HAD A GREY HAIR.”

I often hear women in their 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s or even 70s scoff at women who colour their hair. But premature greying doesn’t aid women in their careers or social standing, and certainly not in the way that it has a male friend of mine. A grey man in his 50s is distinguished and experienced, but a grey-haired woman in her 50s is often invisible.*  So I colour my hair, happily at the moment. But I can also picture myself in my 70s with lovely soft white hair, just like I remember Dad’s hair. Though I expect I’ll have rather more than he had.


*  That’s another post.

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